It could come as a surprise, several members of West Virginia's Public Service Commission have come out saying a $1.3 billion power line across northern West Virginia won't help the state and probably won't cure the energy crunch.

Two consultants and a PSC staff engineer have urged the commission to reject the 240-mile Allegheny Energy proposal.

The consultants agreed that Allegheny's proposal is not "the most economical or cost-effective means" to cure potential northeast power outages.

A PSC engineer also stated at hearings that Allegheny did not select the best and least environmentally damaging route for its proposed Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line.

Ronald L. Klein, an engineer working for two Morgantown-area groups, wrote "[Allegheny's] application does not comprehensively list many alternatives that could ameliorate or obviate the need for the proposed TrAIL line."

Klein told the PSC to force Allegheny to fully examine improving existing power lines, reducing electricity demand, building new power plants closer to the East Coast demand, and storing power in high-tech batteries for use during peak demand, according to reporter Ken Ward, Jr.

It is one of the biggest and most controversial commission cases in years.

Allegheny says the line is needed to provide cheap and reliable power to big Eastern cities and their growing suburbs.

Hundreds of residents turned out to oppose the project at five PSC public hearings in the affected area, which includes parts of Monongalia, Preston, Tucker, Grant, Hardy and Hampshire counties.

West Virginia is not likely to experience any electric service reliability problems into the foreseeable future, said a PSC official.

Some opponents of proposed power generating plants and transmission lines in or through West Virginia contend the state is being used or abused with their construction, although widely supported by the coal industry.